Thank you for your editorial on the subject of regular ed teachers at IEP meetings. The requirement of a regular ed teacher attending IEPs is one that has been a federal law under IDEA for nearly a decade. It is not a proposal with respect to which compliance can still be debated. This is established federal law and OPRF High School is obliged to follow it.
By law, federal funds for special education cannot be allocated to a particular school district unless it follows this and the other special education laws. This is what happened to African Americans in this country after the enactment of the Civil Rights Act and the Voters’ Rights Act of 1964. Some people did not want to comply, but it was the law. We hope that OPRF administrators would set the right example for students: federal law shall be followed until it is changed.
Regarding the expense of having regular ed teachers at IEPs, we could reduce the use of the $300-an-hour lawyer and use that money for educational purposes. If the Chicago Public Schools system with 475,000 students can comply with this law, so can OPRF.
Some students have a good experience with OPRF special ed. However, when parents have legitimate concerns, they are often met with hostile resistance and stonewalling by the special ed administration. There will be ongoing special ed problems until this administration works respectfully with parents and respects the law.
In contrast, Riverside-Brookfield High School’s special ed department has not had an attorney at an IEP for years. They have had no due process cases filed in years, no rulings against them by the Illinois State Board of Education, no parent complaints to the Washington Office of Special Education Programs, no parent special ed letters in the newspaper, no statements of verbal abuse, etc. Their special ed department works with parents and simply complies with the law. They have made Annual Yearly Progress the last three years and were recently named in the top 100 schools in the nation by Newsweek magazine.
As Dr. Bridge wrote last October, OPRF is failing to meet Annual Yearly Progress requirements in three categories of students?#34;African-American, low-income, and students receiving special education. How ironic that some administrators in our very well funded school are seeking to cut back expenses in special education, an area that is failing to meet federal goals.
Surely, OPRF special education can do better.
Terry Burke and Scott Berman